Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

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A computed tomography (CT) angiogram can help the specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, better understand the structure of your child’s heart and the surrounding vessels. Aside from an X-ray, the CT angiogram is the most commonly used procedure for evaluating the inside of a child’s chest.

A CT scan uses a low level of radiation. The radiologists at Norton Children’s are trained and experienced in operating the sophisticated equipment so that it uses the least amount of radiation necessary.

The test is fast and painless. It produces multiple cross-section images of the inside of the body. We use CT angiograms to capture very detailed pictures of the heart and blood vessels in children, even babies.

The CT machine looks like a large doughnut. Your child will lie on a table that moves through the hole in the “doughnut.” Your children will need to hold still for a short time during the test. Because of this, young children may need to be sedated (asleep). If your child needs sedation, a specialist in pediatric anesthesia will provide this service.

A child’s CT angiogram requires that we use a substance called contrast material that helps the pictures show up better. Your child may receive the contrast material intravenously (through an IV). The contrast material contains iodine, so if you know your child has an iodine allergy, tell your doctor before you schedule the test.

Allergic reactions to the contrast material are rare and almost always minor, such as mild itching or hives. Norton Children’s radiologists are prepared to swiftly take care of allergic reactions. If your child becomes lightheaded or has trouble breathing during the test, tell the technologist or nurse right away.

It’s normal for your child to feel a warm sensation when the contrast material is injected and a metallic taste in the mouth for a few minutes.

Norton Children’s uses CT angiograms on children only when they are essential for making a diagnosis. We will avoid repeating CT scans unless absolutely necessary to limit radiation exposure to your child.

How to Prepare for a Child’s CT Scan

  • Tell your doctor about your child’s allergies and any medications your child takes.
  • Tell your doctor and the technologist if you know your child is allergic to the contrast material.
  • Dress your child in loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Your child may not be allowed to eat or drink anything before the test, especially if your child will be sedated.
  • If your child has been ill recently, we likely will not use anesthesia.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

  • Norton Children’s Hospital has been a pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, performing Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986 and becoming the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has certified our cardiothoracic surgeons in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Adult Congenital Heart Association has accredited Norton Children’s Heart Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program as the only comprehensive care center in Kentucky and Indiana treating adults born with a heart defect.
  • More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has offices across Kentucky and Southern Indiana to bring quality pediatric heart care closer to home.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
The Adult Congenital Heart Association has recognized Norton Children's Heart Institute for its expertise treating adult congenital heart disease.

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